Eva - Never Be So Honest (Signature, Unknown Release Date)
On her unknown release date record, Eva perfects that blend between power and emotion that only graces the finest of Techno records, with a level of depth injected into proceedings that continually transports you to new realms of understanding.
During the 90s, Techno took on many new shapes, and to this day these incarnations form man of the foundations for the genre as we know it today, such were the iconic statements being made during the era of constant tectonic shifts. Techno emerged from the 80s in Detroit, as a Afro-Futurist statement on urban and social decay, its message one of future leaning embrace and hyper-expressive drumming patterns, a deft blend of machine and human emotion blended together in a timeless fashion. As the decade drew to a close and the 90s took hold, the genre would be switched up a notch with the coming of the 2nd generation, where the new guard took the genre further into socially informed territories, with political meanings and injustices fuelling the rhythm as the genre became an integral aspect of fuelling social change. Around this time, the genre was exported around the world, where countless producers were utterly amazing by the sound of Techno, and in turn took up making music that reflected the energies of the Detroit original. Europe in particular took to the genre with the most ravenous of appetites, particularly the 2nd generation's take that worked particularly well within the rave scenes taking hold within the continents exploding underground culture. European producers began feeding into the Techno universe during the late 80s, but this input really took hold during the 90s, as a plethora of labels began pumping out incredible pieces of music that made it all the way back to Detroit, with a number of European cities forming incredibly strong bonds with the Motor City as a result. The resulting merger was a very interesting one, with many looking to blend the rawness of the second wave with touches of melody that crafted an intriguing sound indeed, with the drumming progressions hitting hard as ever through the middle with the focus very much on the body, and the heart catered for with the delightful key lines on top, and the results were always mesmerising. Each producer would always offer up their own spin on proceedings, a differential mired in a desire to reflect what they saw and understood in the ever deepening sea of electronica, pairing techno with all kinds of variations which provided the genre with further scope to explore and push the boat out. The universe became that little bit more populated as a result, converging constantly with the Motor City's interpretation of the genre often as we saw beautifully considered blends occurring all over the place, with so much excellence frequently popping up. It was a time of innovation, where icons made their name and the music spoke for itself, challenging convention and defying belief in order to satisfy a generation of music lovers who came to expect only the best from their dance music, and that is why so much of the music remains relevant to this day. You go back in time and hear so very much of what is played out and celebrated in the contemporary scene, be it similar drumming patterns or melodic approaches, it all leads back to the past, where in many ways, the music sounded like it came from the future anyway.
One such artist who found themselves providing their own unique take on Techno during the late 90s was Dutch producer and DJ Eva Willemier Westra, with her small yet incredibly powerful discography making big waves within the local scene and beyond. Westra started her career as a DJ in the het Nijlpaardenhuis roller disco spot, where she featured alongside such Dutch illuminaries as Dov Elkabas and Orlando Voorn, and after discovering house music in 1990 she began playing at the legendary TomTom Club, one of the first house music nights in Amsterdam. She would then become a regular at spots like TimeMachine, the Mazzo, Immortality, and the VIP Club, with her natural affinity with mixing winning crowds over wherever she went. She also became a hit beyond Holland too, with frequent trips to the UK, France, Sweden and Germany to perform at many of the biggest nights going during the 90s, playing alongside some of the most iconic names in electronic music at many of these events. In relation to production, Westra utilised her formal music training to help craft some superb pieces of music indeed, with her releases mostly focused on the French label Pinguins Music and Dutch label Signature, both of which have become cult classics in regards to energetic 90s dance music of all shades. Her musical style was very much reflective of the melting pot of styles and feels that abounded around during the time, with her tunes containing hints of techno, trance and house, all of which was brewed together into a very compelling sounds indeed. It contained the hard hitting rhythms of techno that were very popular at the time, but there was also a massive melodic top layer that worked up above to great effect, with the resulting sound one of great meaning that surely moved the club to feverish levels back in the day.
Her debut record, 1994's 'Mission Impossible' a collab piece with Jasper and Bruno, Nick & Matt, is a pure excursion in melodicness and rhythmic excellence, the vibe very hard to pin down as we are continuously washed over with beautiful tones and feels. There's a progressive edge to it that crafts an unreal momentum, as the keys groove and sway with the times to provide a ever lasting notion of perpetual energy that could last a lifetime, our hearts and minds firmly locked into the swirling notions and constant shifts in density and layers. Both tracks she worked with Jasper on here are real classics of the time, and rather unique in their blend of differing genre stylings in crafting a very special moment on the dancefloor indeed. Out of the Pinguins discography - which is worth checking out in its own right - its certainly a highlight, and as first efforts go its an incredibly well executed one indeed.
Westra would then resurface with a couple of records on the short lived but truly epic Dutch imprint Signature, with 1999's 'Silver' one of those two records. The music found within is an excellent mix of the rumbling depths of hardcore set within a strong as hell techno percussive structure, with the atmosphere catering for deep within the set when the body needs that extra little bit of energy to keep going. There's plenty of little intricacies within the top ends too, with tons of tone unravelling and staying strong to keep that pingin' smile on your face wide and full of euphoria. The other record that she put out on the Signature label, 'Never Be So Honest', is the subject of today's review, and takes place within a sea of deeply captivating rhythms and melodic touches. Released on an unknown date, it sees Eva at her most focused across three cuts that tantalise the rhythmic notions within us as sutble deep set chordal arrangements do the business on the mental side of things, with the overall package amounting to a serious sound that bewilders and delights in equal measure. As 90s (assuming this is 90s!) techno goes, its very much up there with the very best, and we for one cannot wait to dive into this one - so, without further delay, lets get right into this sonic beauty of a record.....
Up first comes the title track, and there is no messing around on this one. The kicks slam right through the middle of the pan as a chiming note adds flavour to proceedings, as little sequences begin to wiggle their way into the momentum in the form of bass notes and rolling drumming patterns. The scope starts to expand rapidly as the hats come into the picture, their placement complimenting the groove to the 9th degree as distant galloping percussive features start to make their presence known, with the groove seeming to take in all it can as time moves onwards and upwards. The track takes its second dip down only to quickly jump right back up again, as differential lines of inquiry mix it up in terms of texture, as further notions worm their way into the mix in the form of a particularly strong key line that submerges itself deep in the percussion. This dip then leads right into the breakdown, and with this the melodics open up to us entirely, with a two chord progression setting the tone for whats to come next, and as quickly as a voice whispers 'Never be so honest', we jump right back into the progression with all the brash and bravado imaginable. The momentum is off the chain, with all kinds of intermingling occurring as we shift through the the haze and hum, with a real sense of relief being achieved as the high octane repeating key line permeates through from the bottom to provide us with a beautiful feeling deep inside indeed. The way in which Eva moves the groove is impeccable, with each stanza of the track feeling new yet familiar at the same time, and its a real joy to be involved within this excellent slice of techno. Wicked stuff. Up next comes the Flow Mix of the title track, and this one begins with the filtering of the main progression to get us going. The scattered presence then slides into a wholly consistent one, with the movement into the heavy hi hats working effortlessly, as new elements begin to align themselves with the progression as it slides on through. The track takes its time in building then building some more, as when the kicks arrive we let our bodies give into the rhythm, which starts off slight then builds as the hats come into view, the overall feel of the track becoming so very powerful as time passes by. A trickling of melodic touches start to lie on top of the foundation, providing a hint at what is to come and before long we arrive into a density-lite segment that sees all but the kicks and the vocal sample remain in the picture. The track starts to bring the elements back into the mix as time passes by, with further features come to the aid of the progression to bring it back to its full glory, our heads totally immersed in all that we see by this point. The manipulation of the key features is again on show, with the repeating note line coming back into the mix as time passes by, with the track going back into a breakdown to turn its focus to the key line and all the power it processes, and like that we move right back into the power of it all, a rhythmic odyssey fuelled by intrigue and passion, and one that does not leave you wanting for more. Self-contained genius.
To wrap things up, we have 'A Day', and this one begins with the lightly repeating chord line to get us going. The birds chirping on either side of the pan hint at a serenity to the music, which is confirmed as the chordal line repeats itself more prominently within a sea of rising bass that lifts the heart with its warmth, with the hat arriving soon after. The drums begin to fuel the momentum, the hats joined by light cymbals and other features as we become transfixed with the scene being painted in front of us, with double time hats coming into view to only fuel that vividness. The track sees a flurry come across itself, and this is the time when the kicks come out to play, and oh how fucking glorious it is as the tune soars above, the additional acid line coming into view as we begin to climb then climb some more into the stratosphere, our hearts on edge as we look for the next thing to look at. This occurs as the filtered key line speaks to us from across the pan, delicately waking us from our mental slumber as we drift from left to right on an indescribable journey that contains so much wonderment, with the track taking its time to move between the densities in order to bind us closer to the comings and goings. The repeating key lines are a delight, delicately balanced with the soaring drumming patterns to give us a full picture of everything that is going on, with the final breakdown bringing all the melodics back into view in order to provide us with one final momentum injection. The tune threatens to blast us away with one final dosage of energy but instead goes down the melodic route, a decision that works so very well as we are kept afloat by a sea of gorgeous tones, a pulsating soundscape that is just irresistible to the touch. Glorious stuff right here.
Techno can often seem uninspired, tonally uninteresting and devoid of a sense of progression, but not in this instance. When engaging with this record, you really feel the weight of the decisions that Eva made in every instance, picking up on the wonderfully subtle switches between density, structure and mood, with the powerful force of techno being manipulated in the most ingenius of ways. Its hard to focus simply on drumming patterns and make anyone feel so engaged for 8 full minutes, but Eva jumps at the opportunity to impress, with so many switches in layering and sequencing meaning that we never stand still, but simply move forward perpetually. The melodic features are subtle but so impactful, often used as a rhythmic tool to keep the progression alive and human in scale and tone, weaving its way through a sea of drumming to give over to us those little morsels of feeling that we need to feel. Its music very much for the body and the soul, and we simply cannot get enough of it. 90s Techno at its most pure, its most enigmatic, its most delightful, and its most meaningful. A tour de force.
You can check out the record here: